PUNK: FROM CHAOS TO COUTURE is coming soon at the Costume Institute of NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art ( May 9–August 11, 2013). The purpose of the exhibition is to show how punk’s aesthetic and iconography has influenced fashion at every level in the last 35 or so years. From the spirit of DIY to the ubiquity of studs, a lot of what was once revolutionary and scary in punk has trickled down to the mainstream, yet it’s classic image of pure revolt still inspires designers. As early as the late 70s high fashion was approppriating punk in a ‘couture’ way ( Zandra Rhodes) and it can safely be said that much of the ‘deconstructed’, ‘destroyed’ fashion, so dear to les japs ( Rei Kawakubo docet) and later embraced by high-luxury brands ( Balmain anyone?) derives from it too. The exhibition uses vintage images and sounds paired with more recent creations, in order to show how close a relationship there actually is between the original rebels and the later catwalk incarnations.
Punk’s power derives after all mainly from its outright negation of the status quo, in its revolutionary image, in the lacerating cry of ‘ No Future!’, visually translated by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren in their shop at 430 Kings Road, in clothes designed for ‘ soldiers, prostitutes, dykes and punks’ as the label, also adorned with the anarchy symbol, declared. Appropriating preceding subcultures and the iconography of sexual deviancy, taking inspiration from anything that was considered offensive, vulgar and in ‘bad taste’, Westwood & McLaren created a distillation of visual revolt, a summation of pure rock. The influence of artistic and philosophycal movements like Dada and Situationism and an image strongly linked to key musical groups like The Sex Pistols ( which were basically concocted by McLaren as an advertisement for the shop and his artistic ideas) have given to the british brand of Punk a strong cohesive image, which has made it an easily reproducible symbol of ribellion and anarchy. Which of course doesn’t mean Punk didn’t have it’s equally influential US counterpart, on the contrary one could safely say that musically most of it started there, with bands like The Stooges and The Ramones leading the way to a rawer, faster, 3-chord rock.
“Since its origins, punk has had an incendiary influence on fashion,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute. “Although punk’s democracy stands in opposition to fashion’s autocracy, designers continue to appropriate punk’s aesthetic vocabulary to capture its youthful rebelliousness and aggressive forcefulness.”
It’s then no surprise that designers as diverse as Donatella Versace and Junya Watanabe or Hedi Slimane ( whose ‘kick in the eye of the fashion system approach’ during the lastest PFW outraged the fashion press in such a unanimous way I can’t help but give him props for real punk attitude) have taken inspiration from the raw power of punk for their AW 13-14 collections, or that the slow-fashion high-vintage website byronesque.com has used its potent imagery to put across its #outofhand campaign, an elegant protest against the too-fast rhythms of creativity imposed by the fashion system ( we’ll get back to this campaign soon).
more info on : http://www.metmuseum.org/punk